Oh, God, the first of the pousse-cafés. I’ve been dreading this day.
A pousse-café, of course, is a drink that layers two or more liqueurs on top of each other, forming a pretty stack of color in the glass. (The all-American example shown here is from “RNAlexander” on Flickr.) To add a layer, you turn a spoon upside-down and press its tip against the side of the glass, just above the previous layer; then you slowly pour the liqueur for the new layer over the back of the spoon. (Does that make sense? No? Then go read this tutorial.) The drink stays in layers because each liqueur has its own specific gravity, or density. That means the heaviest liqueurs have to go at the bottom of the glass.
Aesthetically, pousse-cafés can be quite lovely. But I can’t say I’ve been looking forward to drinking them. It may be true that most liqueurs were originally intended for sipping after dinner, and that even now, people order them for that very purpose. I’ve never been one of those people, though, and I haven’t been relishing the idea of drinking straight Benedictine and grenadine, or whatever monstrosities Baker has in store for me.
Which brings us to the Jersey Lily, a French pousse-café that I chose more or less at random to start things off:
- 1/2 jigger green Chartreuse (1 oz)
- 1/2 jigger cognac (1 oz Park Borderies Single Vineyard)
- 10 drops Angostura bitters
Add the green Chartreuse to a pousse-café glass, then layer the cognac on top. Add the Angostura bitters drop by drop. (It helps if you happen to have an eyedropper full of Angostura bitters, as I do. Be prepared: That’s the Boy Scouts’ solemn creed.)
Ooh, that is unbelievably pretty. Who’d have guessed that the bitters would stop traveling once they hit the Chartreuse? This is quite possibly the most beautiful drink I’ve ever made.
But what about the flavor? Luckily, I find green Chartreuse and cognac to be rather tasty straight! So although this was far from my ideal drink, it was surprisingly good nonetheless.
If all the pousse-cafés in Baker’s book are this good, I just might become a pousse-café evangelist! (Spoiler alert: Not all of them are this good.)
Jersey Lily: ★★★★☆